The MasterChef community has been left reeling after fan favourite Reece Hignell was eliminated from the competition over a lacklustre veggie dish, tearing up as he was told to hang up his apron.Reece, the bubbly star from season 10, came undone in the last elimination before finals week, fumbling over a beetroot and goats cheese starter that Jock Zonfrillo labelled “just nice”.
As he left the kitchen, he said he was “heartbroken” by the call.
It came after a challenge that saw the contestants serve up their creations to six of Australia’s top chefs, with Orana chef Jock particularly unimpressed by the plate of food, deeming it “not finals worthy”.
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The four cooking contestants; Callum, Emelia, Laura and Reece — with Reynold watching from the gantry — were tasked with cooking a four-course meal for the MasterChef judges along with six high-profile returning guest chefs from across the country.
Having blindly selected which course they’d be tackling, Reece, who is vegan, scored the vegetable entree, Emelia landed fish, Laura meat and Callum dessert.
Emelia managed to score dish of the day with her barramundi and leek course, with Laura’s lamb a close second.
But between Callum’s overpowering, “confused” dessert and Reece’s underwhelming veggies, it was Reece who was forced to say goodbye.
“Reece your portions were just not quite right, your seasoning was out, and we all felt it just wasn’t finals worthy. So I’m sorry Reece, that’s why you’re going home,” Jock had said of the beetroots with hazelnut, chocolate, goats cheese with a lemon myrtle vinaigrette.
“OK,” a deflated Reece responded quietly to the brutal feedback, hanging his head.
While tasting the dish, Jock had been the most damning, telling the fellow judges and guest chefs: “It’s a nice dish, but we weren’t looking for nice today, somebody’s going home today and I don’t think nice is good enough.”
He added that the beetroots were underseasoned, chocolate seemed “misplaced” and portion sizing was wrong.
“I just love everyone in this room. I’m so grateful to meet you guys and have that support,” Reece said following the verdict.
“Obviously these guys,” he added, gesturing to his fellow contestants, “So much inspiration from each and every one of you, and to call them my friends is unreal. Overall this experience just means a lot to me.”
Judge Melissa Leong, who had often shared a playful joke or two with Reece during cooks, went on to say: “When you walk out that door today, I want you to strut like you mean it, because you are tens across the board to us, because you’re wonderful, and we’ll miss you.”
Speaking to the camera of his eviction, Reece said he was “heartbroken’.
“It’s a sad, sad moment, but I really appreciate what I’ve done since I’ve been there … To do it twice is special.”
“And I got to meet Katy Perry, and I’m still star struck,” he added with a laugh.
Speaking to news.com.au in June, Reece — who was by far the most excited by Perry’s surprise entry to the kitchen earlier this season — said the moment he met the megastar was a clear highlight of his second shot at MasterChef glory.
“Katy was pure joy and honestly, I could not wipe the smile off my face for days after that challenge,” he said.
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In May, he recalled of the chaotic day: “The judges said to us the day before, ‘If you ever want to get into an immunity challenge, tomorrow is the one you want to be in’.
“So we expected something good, but we thought it would be something along the lines of we’d all win immunity.
“But no, it was the best twist ever,” he said. “We lost our minds completely. It just didn’t seem like something that would ever happen.”
MasterChef: Back to Win continues Monday night from 7.30 on Channel 10.
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